An assault on poverty: basic human needs, science and by United Nations. Commission on Science and Technology for

By United Nations. Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Panel on Technology for Basic Needs, International Development Research Centre (Canada)

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There should also be awareness of the new, effective technologies used in education, such as computer networking and other microelectronics-based tools for learning. Technical assistance and extension services for MSEs can reach the poor through delivery systems that function well. For an example of a successful urban delivery system in Ghana, see ILO (1993). S. Swaminathan Foundation (1993). Careful, comprehensive surveys could be made of existing programs for the technical improvement of small enterprises, and the programs that seem best suited to the circumstances could be adopted.

From this extensive review and contemporary studies, a picture has emerged of the intricate complexity of the poverty problem. This work clearly indicates the magnitude, ubiquitousness, and incisiveness of the problem and places it squarely at the front of the international agenda. These efforts must not be seen as the end but rather as the beginning of a process to tackle one of the most reprehensible and intractable problems of humanity. The most compelling of the facts emerging from this compilation is that the resources exist to relieve both absolute and relative poverty and that a major reason for the failed attempts of the past was in mistaken notions about the causes of poverty and the fact that science and technology (S&T) was not considered a vital factor in their eradication.

This sector has recently been expanding and proliferating, particularly in urban areas. In some cases, especially where major trade and industrial-policy reforms have resulted in the contraction of the formal sector, the informal sector is providing most of the urban jobs and supplying goods and services essential to the poor. In African countries in particular, informal-sector activities now employ more people than the formal sector and provide higher incomes than do rural-sector activities. The key questions are whether the technologies used in the informal sector are conducive to basic-needs satisfaction and, more important, whether this sector has the potential to undertake technological upgrading.

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